God calls us to fight the good fight – with all our might. God by His grace has given us the means to fight sin – word, sacraments, and prayer. God has given us the reason to fight sin – because it is displeasing to God. God has given us the call to fight sin – resist the devil and he will flee from you. So then, let us not seek to serve God with half of our being, but with our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.
And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”
II Kings 13:15-19 NKJV
What do you hope to give as your last instruction before death? What is your attitude toward evil? What do you remember of Aphek? A hypothetical, a spiritual, and a geography question, seemingly unrelated, but in this text connected.
At least two places in Israel had the name Aphek and they were the locations of great historical events. The first was near Jerusalem and sometimes in control of the Philistines. In I Samuel 4 it was the place where the Philistines entered battle with Israel and eventually took the Ark of the Covenant while killing Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas. This seems to be the same place in I Samuel 29:1 where the Philistines gathered and defeated the Israelites, killing Saul and Jonathan. Aphek in the South was the location of some of Israel’s greatest defeats.
However, there was another Aphek in the North of Israel, east of the Jordan river near to the Israel – Syria border. A great event took place at this Aphek in I Kings 20 when Ben-Hadad’s army, having been defeated once, came up to fight against Israel again in the II Battle of Ben-Hadad run. When they went up to fight, they went up to Aphek. There the heavily outnumbered Israelites had God fighting for them and they killed 100,000 Syrians. The remaining Syrians fled into the city of Aphek where God caused a wall to fall. This wasn’t any small town palisade but a massive wall which held no fewer than 27,000 soldiers. When God caused it to fall, 27,000 Syrian soldiers fell dead. Aphek in the North was the location of the Israel’s greatest victory.